The southern California sports center where the late Kobe Bryant was involved drew a disapproving response from another ex-NBA star about its decision to change its name.
Retired hoops star Dwyane Wade, a former competitor, teammate and friend of the Los Angeles Lakers legend, thinks Sports Academy should have kept its name intact, Essentially Sports reports.
The athletic facility, where Bryant coached and his daughter Gianna played basketball, last week announced it would rebrand in the wake of their unsuspecting deaths and drop the “Mamba” moniker from its name.
Wade reacted to the name change via his Instagram Stories, giving his thoughts on the situation. The training center was known as Mamba Sports Academy.
“If it’s about respect then this should always be Mamba Academy,” he said.
The sports academy was one way Bryant chose to pass on his basketball legacy by investing his time and money into the center after retiring from the game in 2016.
Months after the tragic helicopter accident that took the lives of nine people, including Bryant and Gianna, on their commute to the Thousand Oaks facility, the academy moved to retire the “Mamba” label to honor the superstar.
The organization has restored its original name of Sports Academy.
Chad Faulkner, CEO of the Sports Academy, founded Sports Academy in 2016 and later partnered with Bryant on the venture in 2018. He spoke with ESPN’s The Undefeated about the decision to remove “Mamba” from the title, which he says was a mutual decision between him and Bryant’s estate.
“Our beliefs and thoughts are Kobe is one of one. ‘Mamba’ is one of one,” Faulkner told the outlet, which covers the intersections of race, sports and culture. “And with that as we carry on as the Sports Academy, it’s more appropriate to put Kobe in another hall of fame, if you will, and to really respect a legacy that is really unrivaled, frankly, and let that live on its own.
“We will continue to do the work we do.”
The Mamba name was adopted by the Sports Academy, given Bryant’s on-court nickname of “The Black Mamba.” The academy posted a statement announcing the decision last Tuesday, via Instagram.
They are opting to “retire” the name and “raise it to the rafters, where it belongs,” as a way to acknowledge Bryant’s “unparalleled legacy,” the sports center said in a statement.